Wednesday, September 27th, 2017...5:07 pm

Creating an Online Presence as Graduate Students

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online presence

 

By Cricia Richon, Gradlife Ambassador

Branding was once a strategy to differentiate products, services, and companies to build value for the consumer and brand owner; later it evolved to broader areas such as the personal life or careers of individuals. The term personal branding refers to what you promise to bring to the marketplace and the world. The most efficient way to convey your personal brand to the world is: online. When was the last time you Googled yourself?

Personal branding is a way to provide coherence to your story, allowing your audience to easily understand your strengths and interests. This is why in the global job market, personal branding is often considered indispensable. This “story” can refer to your personal life story, your work story, or for graduate students:  your research story. As the impending scholarship season is pushes graduate students to update their academic portfolios, some may also consider amplifying their personal brand through their online presence.

Why is having an online presence important? Academically, many institutions advocate for their academics to create an online presence because it provides a professional profile, allows control of an online image, broadens access to research, and (perhaps most importantly) make connections through online engagement.

What are some useful tools? To start, research portals allow you to read and discuss publications, create exposure for your work, get statistics on your research, and connect with others in your field. Two popular research portals are ResearchGate and Academia.edu, which have similar features and are often referred to a “social network for scholars” as you can receive updates and initiate discussion on recent publications by your colleagues. A more social route would be Twitter: the form of micro-blogging academics use to learn about talks, publications, job opportunities, and interact with the public. Its instant nature can be taken advantage of to optimize your outreach and engagement. For example, many conferences and events can be attended virtually now with live tweets and Periscope (the live video streaming app Twitter acquired).
What’s the difference between online presence and your personal brand? As you delve into different tools to develop your online presence, it’s important to remember that online presence cannot be substituted for a personal brand. In a research setting, your personal brand can be thought of the story that you want your CV to convey. Your online presence can be thought of as the number of points on your CV. Quantity is nice, but quality definitely overrides quality. Without a balance, the quantity can begin clouding the quality. This is where your online presence may begin to become a distraction, and why social media like Twitter sometimes get a bad rap. However, with the growing popularity of tools like Altmetric, which looks at the broader influence and impacts of your work beyond academic citations, playing with this balance may be worth the time investment in the long run.

Photo credits: Kenneth Jones



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